10 Point Plan: The winning pitch

Whether you’re selling a single product or offering a range of services, pitching is integral to the growth and development of your business. Here’s how to make the most of the opportunity.

Guide

1. Commit yourself

Read the client/customer brief and assess whether the opportunity in front of you is both realistically achievable and profitable. If so, understand that in order to secure the contract or the sale(s) you and your colleagues must tackle the pitching process with total commitment.

2. Get to know your audience

Set a pitch schedule and stick to it. During the planning stage get a clear and thorough idea of what the client/customer needs and what their business is. More generally, get a feeling for the personality of the client/customer team – this will help to steer the overall tone of your pitch.

3. Go above and beyond

Define what success looks like for the client/customer, and then work backwards to turn that vision of success into a logical, structured pitch. Don’t just do what’s asked of you though – think about ways you can go beyond the brief. For example, create a two-year development plan, or decide how success can be measured.

4. Choreograph your pitch

Create the strategy, the visuals and the pitch performance. Make sure that your pitch caters to each of the client personalities in the room. Avoid too many words within slides. Work out who will say what and when. Is there any way that you can incorporate some theatre into your pitch? Use this to your advantage, but keep it relevant.

5. Distil it down

You should be able to distil your pitch down to the essential points, so consider what the client/customer needs to remember about it and then create a summary. This is especially important if other businesses are involved in pitching.

6. Practice for perfection

Rehearse. Then rehearse again. And again. Rehearse as individuals; rehearse in front of colleagues; rehearse as a team; rehearse all the way up to the front of the pitch door. By this stage nobody should be reading from notes.

7. Let your body do the talking

During the pitch think about body language. All of the usual rules apply: stand up straight, keep your hands out of your pockets and always maintain eye contact with the client/customer team. Don’t be afraid of using hand gestures to emphasise points during the pitch. You can even make an effort to dress like the people to whom you are pitching.

8. Follow up

Always send an email after the pitch. Use the opportunity to tie up any loose ends. Now is a good time to include one or two extra ideas to indicate to the client/customer that you’re proactively thinking about the opportunity. Be prepared for negotiation – if need be, reduce the spec of your offering but never reduce the price.

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